Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson watches as nurse Rebecca Cathersides administers the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to Lyn Wheeler at Guy's Hospital in London, on December 8, 2020. Photo: Frank Augstein / POOL / AFP
Nine out of ten people in poorer countries will struggle to access the coronavirus vaccine because rich countries are hoarding supplies, a coalition of charities and NGOs has warned. As the UK celebrates the rollout of its mass vaccination scheme this week, the newly-formed People’s Vaccine Alliance is warning of rising health inequality across the globe, as wealthy countries buy up on average three times the amount needed to vaccinate their entire populations.
In contrast, only one in ten people in poorer countries will be able to access the potentially life-saving vaccine next year. According to the Alliance, which is made up of organisations including Amnesty International, Frontline AIDS, Global Justice Now and Oxfam, Canada is the worst culprit, with enough doses of the vaccine to populate every Canadian five times. Overall, wealthy countries, representing 14 percent of the world, have bought up 53 percent of available vaccines. The People’s Vaccine Alliance is calling on pharmaceutical companies responsible for recently licensed vaccines to share the technology through the World Health Organisation COVID-19 Technology Access Pool.Anna Marriott, Oxfam’s health policy manager, said: “No one should be blocked from getting a life-saving vaccine because of the country they live in or the amount of money in their pocket. But unless something changes dramatically, billions of people around the world will not receive a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19 for years to come.”